Vox Pastoris

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Level I Presentation Descriptions: Biblical Geography

The Biblical Geography presentations emphasize that Jesus was a real man who lived on this earth. These presentations also give the children an introduction to the geography of Israel. They are usually given just before Advent starts to give the geographical background to the Infancy Narratives.

There are two presentations under the subject of Biblical Geography:

  1. Globe and Raised Surface Map of Israel
  2. Puzzle Map of Israel (Regions and Waterways)

In Globe and Raised Surface Map of Israel, the catechist first shows the children a globe of the earth. The water is painted blue, and the land is brown with a sandpaper texture. The country of Israel is indicated by a red dot. Together the catechist and children marvel that God came to earth in the person of Jesus and lived in the tiny country of Israel.

Next the children are shown a large map of Israel with the land raised above the water. The children are encouraged to explore the texture and features of the map with their hands. The catechist then shares the names of the three principle cities of Jesus' life: Nazareth, where the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and where Jesus grew up with Mary and Joseph; Bethlehem, where Jesus was born; and Jerusalem, where Jesus taught the people, died on the cross, and rose again. Each city is marked with a wooden marker with an appropriate symbol: a flame for the Holy Spirit for Nazareth, a star like the one the wise men followed for Bethlehem, and a cross for Jerusalem. The children are then encouraged to work with the material on their own and put the markers in their places (they are color-coded to assist the children in this work).

In Puzzle Map of Israel (Regions and Waterways), the children are introduced to the main regions and waterways of Israel as they were during Jesus' time by means of a large wooden puzzle. As the catechist moves each piece of the puzzle off of the board and onto a control map, she teaches the names of the main regions that Jesus spent time in: Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Perea, and Decapolis. She also teaches the names of the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea. This work serves to ground the stories of the Gospels in time and place for the children. There are several activities that the children can do after this presentation, including working with the puzzle, labeling and coloring blank maps of Israel, and making their own map by tracing the puzzle pieces.

For further reading about biblical geography in the atrium, see The Religious Potential of the Child, page 113.

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